ST. GEORGE – Hundreds of Utah’s top high school cyclists will fight for individual and team glory at the Utah High School Mountain Bike Championships, set for Saturday, Nov. 5, on the west side of St. George.
Eleven state champions, between grades 9 and 12, will be crowned in the one-day event involving 81 teams and more than 1,000 riders.
“We are excited to return to St. George for the third year in a row to have our state championships,” said Lori Harward, executive director of the Utah High School Cycling League. “We are grateful for the sponsorship and support. It’s been a great collaboration.”
This is the fifth season of the Utah High School Cycling League. Harward said participation has ballooned from 321 student-athletes in 2012 (grades 7 through 12) to 2,354 in 2016.
The thrill and unpredictability of desert terrain will be apparent in the St. George course, which is 4.36 miles including an elevation gain of approximately 600 feet. The race includes a small wash section, slick rock technical sections and a downhill single track, among other challenges.
“We love what this sport does for young people,” said Kevin Lewis, director of the St. George Area Sports Commission, “and we think St. George is the perfect destination to celebrate the values and skills developed in the Utah High School Cycling League.”
The St. George area boasts more than 250 miles of world-class mountain bike trails with some of the most scenic riding venues in the world including Gooseberry Mesa, The Zen Trail, Bear Claw Poppy and the JEM Trail.
“Cycling is one of the major attractions in the area and the positive impact it has made has been phenomenal,” Lewis said. “Hosting the state high school championship is a great way for us to celebrate what we have here.”
“It’s fun for us to bring our 1,000-plus students and their families to experience St. George and all the great mountain biking opportunities developed down there,” she added.
Lewis said 2016 has been a year filled with positive activities that involve cycling in the region.
“From hosting IRONMAN 70.3, a stage of the Tour of Utah and the Red Bull Rampage, along with our recent designation of the Veyo Loop as a Road Respect route, the opportunities for cyclists are pretty exciting,” he said.
The first wave of racers start at 8:15 a.m. The event is free for spectators. All are welcomed at the event. To get to the starting line from Dixie Drive, go west on Canyon View Drive until the road ends.